The Presidential Daily Brief


  1. Global Coronavirus Cases Hit 5 Million

    The pandemic has now surpassed 5 million reported cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 328,000 deaths. The numbers reflect new hot spots, like Saudi Arabia's 62,000 cases. Along with other hard-hit Gulf nations, the kingdom is reimposing lockdowns that had been lifted for Ramadan. America, the worst-hit country with 1.5 million known infections and 93,400 deaths, continues to battle over lifting restrictions. New research suggests that starting lockdowns one week earlier would have saved 36,000 lives, but advocates of reopening argue that shutting people in keeps them from routine checkups and worsens other health issues.

    Keep up with the pandemic on OZY.

  2. Super Cyclone Slams Into Bangladesh, India

    Cyclone Amphan hit low-lying Bangladesh and eastern India with winds of more than 100 mph Wednesday, killing at least 22 people. The storm left millions displaced, striking hardest in India's West Bengal state. In Bangladesh, a 5-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree. It was the strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in 21 years, but it weakened considerably before hitting heavily populated areas like Kolkata, with 15 million inhabitants. Although the evacuation of 2.4 million in India was seen as a lifesaver, there are worries that crowded shelters will spread COVID-19.

    OZY examines Katrina conspiracies.

  3. Research Speed, Politics Lift Anti-Vax Voices

    While the world prays that scientists can beat the odds on rushing a COVID-19 vaccine, the speed of progress has become a rallying cry for anti-vaxxers. The fringe movement is now being boosted by those seeking "liberation" from the financial and social burdens of lockdown. Some are pledging to never get vaccinated, even as their cheerleader, President Donald Trump, extols his "Warp Speed" inoculation development program. He predicts a vaccine within the year — something recent research milestones have made less far-fetched — while public health experts worry that anti-vax misinformation could hamper their fight against the virus.

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    Phoenix-Area Gunman Shoots Three

    Police in Glendale, Arizona, have arrested a suspect in the shooting of three people Wednesday night. One Twitter user reported going to the Westgate Entertainment District "to enjoy some outside time" with family members, but "had to RUN AWAY [because] a crazy person decided to shoot the place up." State Sen. Martin Quezada said he witnessed "an armed terrorist with an AR-15" carry out the assault. Police reported that one victim is in critical condition, while the other two did not have life-threatening wounds.

    An OZY op-ed columnist suggests limits on ammo.

  5. Also Important...

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he's seeking an investigation into recently revealed conversations between his predecessor and U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden. The International Olympic Committee's president says the Tokyo Games will be cancelled if they can't be held in 2021. And researchers are beginning a global trial of antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump says he's taking, among health care workers to see if they help fight COVID-19.

    Coronavirus update: The U.S. is contemplating banning travel from Brazil, where the pandemic is surging.

    Missing The Last Dance? Your new Michael Jordan binge is Flashback, OZY's brand-new podcast about history's craziest unintended consequences. Episode four tracks how his return to basketball — and what economists call the NBA's "Jordan Effect" — was actually caused by a 1994 Major League Baseball labor dispute. Curious? Learn more by downloading and subscribing to Flashback — the coolest history class to hit the podcast world. Listen now.


  1. Wuhan Bans Wild Animal Trade

    Maybe they should have done this last year? Yesterday city officials in the initial coronavirus epicenter announced a prohibition on the sale and consumption of exotic animals. That includes bats and pangolins, which have both been suspected of transmitting COVID-19 to humans at a Wuhan food market. The five-year ban covers animals found in the wild and those bred in captivity, and comes as 122 nations have called for an independent investigation into the virus's origin, which Beijing continues to refuse.

    Read this OZY op-ed praising quarantine taboos.

  2. Coronavirus Silences Female Academics

    Lockdowns are the perfect time to write ... but don't tell that to a researcher mom trying to publish. Female voices in male-dominated academia have declined during the pandemic, OZY reports, with one journal's submissions from women dropping from 11 percent to 4 percent. And you don't need a Ph.D. to explain why: Women carry the lion's share of parenting and domestic work, and lockdowns have taken away breaks like school and babysitting. Post-pandemic policy could mitigate the lasting impact on equality, but such decisions are often informed by the same female authors who are currently locked down — and out.

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    Oxfam Charity to Withdraw From 18 Countries

    The U.K.-based nonprofit had been in a slump before the pandemic as a public scandal slowed donations. But Oxfam also depends on a network of secondhand shops across Europe to make money, and lockdowns have wreaked havoc on that revenue stream. Now the charity is struggling even more, and has announced that it'll cut 1,450 jobs, about a third of its staff, and withdraw from its work in 18 countries. Still, Oxfam says it will finish current projects in those places, meaning it might not leave for months or even years.

    OZY wonders if government bailouts can save the world's nonprofits.

  4. Raffle Ticket Nets Picasso for Italian Woman

    "Everything you can imagine is real." That quote from Pablo Picasso helps explain how a 58-year-old Italian woman stumbled into owning one of his works. With an estimated value of $1.1 million, Nature Morte, a 1921 oil painting of a glass of absinthe and a newspaper, was the top prize in a raffle to benefit African water projects. And Claudia Borgogno had the winning ticket — a Christmas gift from her son, who quarantined with her on Northern Italy's Adriatic coast. Borgogno said she'd "never won anything before," while her son predicted the prize would brighten what has been an "awful period."

  5. FC Seoul Fined for Sex Doll Cheering Section

    Some things should remain locked down. That's the gist of K-League soccer's record fine against a team in the South Korean capital that enlivened its empty stadium with sex dolls during a match. FC Seoul must pay $82,000 for leaving female fans "deeply humiliated" while harming the "integrity of the league." In its defense, the apologetic club said it didn't realize the 30 "premium mannequins" it ordered had other uses. Alert fans, who are barred from attending by coronavirus restrictions, observed that some of the dolls sported ads for adult sites, which are outlawed in South Korea.